Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ideas Have Consequences Chapter 3

I just finished reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's book,
On the Banks of the Plum Creek to my youngest daughter. With a sigh, I closed the book, wishing I could somehow turn back the clock and live in those days when solid principles of truth formed the warp and woof of society.

Richard Weaver corrected an error in my thinking.

".....the things of highest value are not affected by the passage of time; otherwise the very concept of truth becomes impossible." Therefore, it is illogical to think that one must travel back in time to capture it.

The real longing in my heart, I think, is to see truth rooted front & center in the society in which I live. How does one live in that center, when the mad rush of society is to the periphery?

Weaver discusses the periphery and that flight from the center of truth in this 3rd chapter, which is entitled "Fragmentation and Obsession." When a culture un-tethers itself from the anchor of truth, disintegration is inevitable.

Through the ages, there have been learned men who have held tenaciously to those central truths. Weaver takes us back in history to trace the office of the philosophic doctor, the men who had attained to the highest level of learning. Surrounding him, in concentric circles, stood those with less mastery: the ones who had "acquired only facts and skills." When society was faced with a knotty problem, whether a problem of justice or finances or governing, the philosophic leaders could be counted upon to untangle the difficulties. The truth that they possessed enabled them to answer ultimate questions and make decisions for the benefit of all. They were synthesists, men who could unify many branches of truth and use that breadth of knowledge for the common good.

As history unfolds, we find that the philosophic doctor was replaced in more modern times by the gentleman. Weaver describes him as "a secularized expression of the same thing." Those of this era sought to maintain the best of the heritage left behind by the philosophers, but without the religious underpinnings. This triggers in my mind a scripture: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The gentleman had ideals, but without the deep roots of his predecessor.

Moving another step away from truth, we find the money-makers and politicians replacing the gentleman. Their obsession with materialism is incompatible with the sacred truths of ancient days, so they abandon not only religion but also ideals.

The "fragmentation" that Weaver refers to in the title is the opposite of synthesis, and it is the result of abandoning central truth. Where once knowledge was combined from parts to whole, modern man stands at the periphery of truth and takes pride in being a specialist. He has only a fragment of knowledge and thus there is nothing to synthesize:

"he is no longer capable of philosophy."

Here is another worthy quote on the subject of specialization:

"Specialization develops only part of a man; a man partially developed is deformed; and one deformed is the last person to be thought of as a ruler...."

My thoughts now:
If we want to raise up real leaders, leaders of the caliber of the Biblical Daniel, we must provide them with a liberal arts education! The materialistic emphasis in education is contributing to the decay of society because it is wholly self-centered. Weaver goes so far to say that specialization leads to obsession, which leads to emotional instability, which precludes a person from any ability at all to lead.

There is much, much more in this chapter but I think these 7 words sum up the gist nicely:

"Wisdom does not lie on the periphery."

"Thus says the LORD,
'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you shall find rest for your soul.
But they said, 'We will not listen.'"
~Jeremiah 6:16

1 comment:

ichthys said...

Our thoughts seem to run in parallel..just yesterday I wrote this diminished hexaverse form.... a comment on the 21st Century today

Beauty is asleep
innocence is dead,

Thankfully those who know Him have confidence in our trust in Jesus and perhaps this is just a temporary phase in the history of mankind and spiritual enlightenment will return.